A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) on GE crops and technology was met with cheers from the biotech industry, but little meaningful scrutiny by the mainstream media. Initial media reports boiled down the message to “GMOs Are Safe” and even “healthy.” Some even claimed the study “proves” the safety of genetically modified crops.
Aside from the obvious—that the headlines over-simplify the NAS findings in a way that spins favorable for the biotech industry—the media also overlooked the influence, as reported by Food & Water Watch, of the biotech industry on The National Research Council (NRC), the research arm of the NAS.
According to F&WW, the NRC takes millions of dollars in funding from biotechnology companies; invites sponsors like Monsanto to sit on high-level boards overseeing the NRC’s work; invites industry-aligned, pro-GMO scientists to author NRC reports; draws scientific conclusions based on industry science; and operates at times as a private contractor for corporate research. Biased or not, and despite the positive spin by most media outlets, the report’s “conclusions” left plenty of room for doubt on a range of issues, from safety, to improved yields, to damage to the environment.
On many issues the committee, made up of 20 scientists and policy experts, couldn’t—or wouldn’t—commit. Instead the experts produced a 400-page report full of equivocations, and of recommendations the committee knows will be ignored, but little in the way of clarity.